Did Alan Bensoussan suck-up to the communists in China regarding TCM? It depends a little bit on google translate.

Google translate is a wonderful tool but it can sometimes be so funny – I guess it still needs a bit of work. I’ve googled ‘Alan Bensoussan’ due to the recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald exposing the National Institute of Complementary Medicine’s (NICM) dealings with communists and smugglers. In the article, reference is made to a speech given by Alan Bensoussan sucking up to some communists in China. Let me quote the article: “According to a leaked draft of his speech notes, Bensoussan planned to say Chinese medicine was “exceptional” because of the “conscientious, vigorous support of the Chinese government”. NICM would not confirm if Bensoussan made the speech. “China remains on a strong trajectory to develop [traditional Chinese medicine] internationally … It is now up to China to help us with this task … We look forward to ongoing collaboration with our Chinese partners [and] the continued support of the Chinese government,” the draft speech continued.”

So the question is; did Alan Bensoussan give the speech or not. The NICM will obviously say nothing and they deny having received any funding from China for the advancement of TCM in Australia (which I don’t belief). But according to a recent Chinese article, obviously written in Chinese, he did indeed give the speech. But this depends a little bit on google translate and if Bensoussan = Benshanshan = Ben Shusan (Ben Shoeshine would have been great). I’ve copied the translated text below followed by the original Chinese text (I’ll appreciate it if a native speaker can give me some pointers). I’ve also highlighted some funny parts.

“Australian and Chinese medicine researcher Bensoussan: China leads the world with acceleration

China News Service reporter Tao Shelan

“I have been studying Chinese medicine for the first time in Nanjing since 1984. For decades, I have witnessed the great changes in China. It is leading the world with the development of acceleration. I often think: Maybe the Chinese themselves will also be affected by this speed. The result is that they are very adaptable. If this continues, China will have a better future. Westerners need to recognize China’s achievements.” Australian Chinese Medicine Research Scholar, Dean of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), University of Western Sydney Alan Bensoussan told the China News Agency reporter.

In an ancient building built in 1915, 25 kilometers west of Sydney, NIMC led by Benshanshan and its predecessor, the University of Western Sydney’s Center for Auxiliary Medicine, have been conducting “from laboratory to clinical” for Chinese medicine since 1995. The comprehensive research program is a leader in Australian Chinese medicine research, education and policy development. It is his greatest wish to let Chinese medicine, a medical culture, be shared by the world.

In fact, Ben Shushan himself is an acupuncturist with 25 years of experience. From an early age, he was interested in medicine, especially non-traditional medicine. Through the media, he learned about the magic of acupuncture, so he enrolled in a three-year acupuncture course and took acupuncture license. After training in Nanjing, he opened a clinic. Some cases that are not complicated but have not been cured for a long time, through his acupuncture and Chinese medicine, the patient miraculously recovered. This brought him business and made him “fascinated by Chinese medicine practitioners” until now.

The example of slaughtering shows that Chinese medicine is very valuable.” [I wonder, does this now refer to the slaughter of pangolins and rhinos?] Ben Shushan said that in recent decades, China has made outstanding achievements in the protection of traditional medicine and established many excellent Chinese medicine hospitals, schools and research institutions.

While attending the clinic, I completed a master’s degree from the University of Technology, Sydney, and a Ph.D. program at the University of Sydney. Compared with business, Benshanshan prefers to do academic research. In 1989, he was employed by the University of Western Sydney to engage in non-traditional medical research while teaching. In 1996, he was invited to take the lead in researching and evaluating the practice of Chinese medicine in Australia, and published the “Australian TCM Practice” assessment report, which laid the foundation for the standardization and legalization of Chinese medicine in Australia in the future.

In 2013, Benshanshan won the Chinese Medicine International Contribution Award from China. This award is the only international award in the field of Chinese medicine in the world. He became the only foreigner who won the medal in the same year. On the podium, Ben Shushan said: “China is the only country that has protected and developed its traditional medical system. Looking around the world, clinical and research facilities without any traditional medicine can compete with Chinese medicine.” [if this translation can be corrected, will this correspond with the leaked speech notes?]

In that year, NICM and the Xiyuan Hospital of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences established a joint research and development center for Chinese medicine. In 2014, NICM signed a memorandum of cooperation with Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to establish the first high-quality integrated Chinese and Western medicine research and clinical service center in Australia. The two sides exchange medical personnel for academic research or training. Ben Shushan said that cooperation with China is very important and necessary. What we have to do is to successfully apply Chinese medicine to Western countries. There will be unlimited opportunities for future Chinese medicine practitioners.

What makes Ben Shushan feel shocked is the speed at which China has developed rapidly in recent decades. When I first went to China in the same year, on the streets of Nanjing, when he asked for directions, there were many people who looked around. There were very few foreigners in China at that time. He went to Shijiazhuang, and the street signs on the street didn’t have pinyin, so he lost his way. Twelve years later, he revisited China with a visiting delegation of the World Health Organization. His great changes made him speechless. Now, he has to go to China several times a year.

Ben Shushan said: “China has its own culture different from Western culture. Just like the Chinese tunic suit, it is a unique charm. Now go to China’s shopping malls, McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. But the Chinese are warm and friendly. Innovation has never changed. Chinese culture is extremely rich and diverse. China’s traditional medicine also has diversity, which is worth exploring and learning, and thus benefiting all mankind.” Ben Shushan looks forward to cooperating with Chinese medicine in China. “We have infrastructure, resources, and enthusiasm.”

Original text

原标题:(新中国70年)人物志:澳大利亚中医药研究学者本树山:中国以加速度发展引领世界

中新社悉尼8月5日电 题:澳大利亚中医药研究学者本树山:中国以加速度发展引领世界

中新社记者 陶社兰

“自1984年第一次去南京学习中医,几十年来,我亲眼见证了中国的巨大变革。它是在以加速度的发展引领世界。我常常想:也许中国人自己也会受到这种速度的冲击吧。结果是,他们非常适应。照这样下去,中国会有更好的未来。西方人需要认可中国的成就。”澳大利亚中医药研究学者、西悉尼大学国家辅助医学研究院(NICM)院长艾伦·本树山(Alan Bensoussan)告诉中新社记者。

在悉尼以西25公里外一栋建于1915年的古老建筑里,本树山领导的NICM及其前身西悉尼大学辅助医学研究中心自1995年以来,针对中医药展开了“从实验室到临床”的综合研究计划,在澳大利亚中医药研究、教育及政策制定方面居于领导地位。让中医这种医学文化为世界所共享,是他最大的愿望。

事实上,本树山自己,就是一名有着25年从业经验的针灸师。从小就对医学尤其是非传统医学充满兴趣的他,通过媒体了解到针灸的神奇,于是报读了一个为期3年的针灸课程,考下了针灸师执照。在南京进修后,他开了诊所。一些并不复杂却久治不好的病例,通过他的针灸和中药,病人奇迹般康复。这给他带来了生意,也让他直到现在还“为中医着迷”。

“屠呦呦的例子,充分说明中医药是非常有价值的。”本树山说,近几十年来,中国在保护传统医学方面成果突出,建立了许多优秀的中医医院、学校及研究机构。

一边开诊所,一边读完了悉尼科技大学的硕士、悉尼大学的博士课程。和生意相比,本树山更喜欢做学术研究。1989年,他受聘于西悉尼大学,在教学的同时,从事非传统医学研究。1996年,他应邀牵头调研和评估中医在澳大利亚的实践,并出版了《澳大利亚中医实践》评估报告,为以后中医在澳大利亚的规范化和合法化奠定了基础。

2013年,本树山获得中国颁发的中医药国际贡献奖。这个奖项是世界范围内中医药领域唯一的国际奖项,他成为当年获得此项奖章的唯一外国人。颁奖台上,本树山说:“中国是唯一将本国传统医学体系保护并发展完好的国家。环顾世界,没有任何传统医学的临床及研究设施可以与中医媲美。”

也就在那一年,NICM与中国中医科学院西苑医院建立了中医药联合研发中心。2014年,NICM与北京中医药大学签署合作备忘录,共同在澳大利亚建立首个高质量中西药结合研究和临床服务中心,双方互派医务人员进行学术研究或培训。本树山表示,与中国进行合作是非常重要且必要的,我们所要做的就是将中医成功运用于西方国家。未来中医将有无限机会。

同样让本树山感到震撼的,是中国近几十年来飞快发展的速度。遥想当年第一次去中国时,在南京街头,他一问路,就有很多人围上来看稀奇。那时候在中国的外国人很少。他去石家庄,街道上的路牌没有拼音,以至于迷路了。12年后,他随世界卫生组织的一个访问团再访中国,变化之大令他无以言表。现在,他每年都要去中国几次。

本树山说:“中国自有它不同于西方的文化,就像中山装一样,是独特的魅力。现在去中国的购物中心,麦当劳、星巴克等等什么都有。但是,中国人的热情、友好、创新,始终没变。中国文化极其丰富,有多样性。中国的传统医学也有多样性,值得探索、学习,从而造福于全人类。”本树山期待与中国的中医药合作也可以出现加速度,“我们有基础设施、有资源、也有热情。”(完)

 

Communists, smugglers, and millions of dollars: inside the taxpayer-funded NICM institute spreading Chinese medicine in Australia

A couple of days ago a very interesting article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) regarding the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM). The article was the result of an in-depth investigation by the award winning science reporter for the SMH and The Age, Liam Mannix. (I also borrowed, with permission, the title of this blog post from one of @liammannix tweets because it perfectly captures the essence of the NICM in one sentence).

The SMH article is in general not very flattering of the NICM’s operations but unfortunately, and maybe I can say as usual, the university hosting the NICM, Western Sydney University, denies any wrongdoing and will in all likelihood continue with ‘business’ as usual.  There is however one paragraph in the article that seriously annoys me and it again shows how good these people are at misleading the public. It is the very common example of Artemisinin being used as ‘evidence’ that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a real thing as opposed to state sponsored quackery. I’ve copied the article below and will comment on the artemisinin statement afterwards.

Start of article

The National Institute of Complementary Medicine was in trouble. Set up in 2007 with federal government money, its job was to research the scientific validity of complementary medicines such as acupuncture.

But by 2015 it was struggling to bring in research funding.

Confidential board documents, obtained by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, show its parent organisation, Western Sydney University, had become “concerned about their relatively high level of financial support for NICM”. At a cost of about $2 million per year, the institute was a drain on the university’s coffers.

The National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University.
The National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University.CREDIT:JANIE BARRETT

So the institute decided to change focus and reach across the seas for funds. Under director Professor Alan Bensoussan, the NICM, and through it the university, began to concentrate on the controversial practices of traditional Chinese medicine.

What happened next shows the extensive, unreported links between an Australian university and the Chinese government – links that had potential to indirectly assist the aims of the Chinese Communist Party.

In response to its funding shortfall, the NICM lined up millions of dollars from a property developer called Yuhu group, chaired by Huang Xiangmo, a man with well-reported connections to organisations associated to the Communist Party. Huang was a big political donor to both sides of politics, a Crown casino high roller and the man whose relationship with Sam Dastyari resulted in the Labor senator quitting politics in disgrace.

Then the NICM secured a pledge of $20 million from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. The money was originally lined up for a hospital of Chinese medicine in Westmead, Sydney. Bensoussan prepared to announce the funding as a coup as, according to a 2015 strategic review, “the Chinese government looks for Western validation and greater use/patient benefits from [Chinese medicine]”.

“This is universally regarded as the most critical short term source of additional research funding for NICM,” the review continued, and NICM and Australia were “ideally positioned to leverage its strengths in [Chinese medicine]”.

A separate document, also obtained by The Age and Herald, urged the NICM to “seek endorsement and influence from the Chinese government”, and named Chinese President Xi Jinping as a key person to engage. The strategy was entitled “Building a Bridge Between China and Australia”.

The centre now denies that any of the funding, either from Huang or the Beijing University, actually came through. This year, Western Sydney University cut the ribbon on a new health centre in Westmead, offering services including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. They say it has been fully funded by the university.

What is not questioned is the desire of the Chinese Communist Party leadership to sell the benefits of its medical practices to the West as part of its national propaganda effort.

Recent moves by the federal government to impose greater responsibility on universities to take note of their exposure to foreign influence activities, particularly from China, make the NICM’s overtures to China in retrospect look naive at best. However in the context of the time, it’s unlikely that NICM or Bensoussan recognised that they were at risk of being part of a Chinese influence strategy.

To its supporters, the National Institute is testing traditional medicines with scientific thoroughness to enhance the treatments available for chronic diseases in the West. To its detractors, it’s pushing questionable medical practices with inadequate proof and playing its part in a concerted attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to improve its image in the West.

‘Unethical not to do it’

Traditional Chinese medicine prescribes cocktails of herbs, animal extracts and acupuncture to balance the energy – qi – that runs through invisible channels in the body called meridians.

Bensoussan, the NICM’s director, is a longtime practitioner. He says Chinese medicine’s herbs might hold secrets to treating the West’s chronic disease problems. “We would be unethical to not do this research, to turn our backs on it,” he said.

Part of a Chinese traditional herbal medicine book.
Part of a Chinese traditional herbal medicine book.CREDIT:ISTOCK

This is not a wild claim. The anti-malarial herbal extract artemisinin emerged from a broad survey of traditional Chinese medicine and has saved millions of lives. In Australia, Chinese medicine practitioners are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, and Bensoussan is on the Natural Therapies Review Team at the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia’s peak funding body for medical research. In May this year, the World Health Organisation agreed to include traditional remedies in its foundational document – a strong endorsement.

But it also has its detractors.

Venerable academic journal Nature responded to the WHO’s decision with an unusually stinging editorial: “[Traditional Chinese medicine] is based on unsubstantiated theories about meridians and Qi. Most Western-trained doctors and medical researchers regard TCM practices with scepticism: there is no substantial evidence that most of them work, and some signs that a few do harm.”

The NICM’s reason for being is to test the science behind complementary medicine.

The World Health Organisation agreed to include traditional remedies in its foundational document in May.
The World Health Organisation agreed to include traditional remedies in its foundational document in May.CREDIT:ISTOCK

But questions have been raised about industry funding of its research, and what that might mean for its rigour. In 2015 NICM launched a clinical trial of Sailuotong, a herbal mixture for vascular dementia, funded by a Chinese-linked pharmaceutical company called Australia Shineway Technology Pty Ltd. And The Beijing Tong Ren Tang Chinese Medicine Corporation is funding NICM research into the health benefits of cow gallstones. Both companies already sell the medicines under study.

This sort of research – where a private company pays a university to confirm that a substance it is already selling actually works as medicine – has the potential to create “a very significant conflict of interest that is usually intolerable in science”, says John Dwyer, a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of NSW.

NICM responded that the institute “conducts itself with the highest degree of integrity, ethics, scientific enquiry and social responsibility. The University has strict protocols in place to ensure the independence of its research.”

‘An unprecedented opportunity’

In 2014, Western Sydney University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine to work together on a jointly-run Chinese medicine clinic in the heart of Sydney, to be known as the Australia China Academy for Integrative Healthcare. At the signing were then prime minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Barney Glover and Xu Anlong, president of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, sign the memorandum of understanding witnessed by Xi Jinping and Tony Abbott in Canberra in 2014.
Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Barney Glover and Xu Anlong, president of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, sign the memorandum of understanding witnessed by Xi Jinping and Tony Abbott in Canberra in 2014.CREDIT:UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY NEWS CENTRE

Background briefing notes from NICM’s top leadership called the centre “an unprecedented opportunity for the advancement of Chinese medicine in Australia, including the development of the Chinese medicine market in the West; promoting Chinese heritage and culture; and integrating Chinese medicine with the Australian healthcare system.”

Leaked emails show NICM’s leadership ensured that, as a potential donor to the institute, Huang Xiangmo was sent a copy of the MOU briefing notes before the signing. The Beijing University proposed spending more than $20 million on the collaboration. The clinic was to “introduce Chinese medicine to Australian clinicians and the community”, according to a leaked staff briefing. It would have included a museum of Chinese medicine.

Western Sydney University now says that the funding never arrived, and insists it has received no money from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. The new Chinese medicine centre in Westmead is “wholly operated and financed by Western Sydney University”, a spokeswoman said.

The University has denied that NICM had funding issues in 2015, and Bensoussan also denied that NICM’s embrace of Chinese medicine had anything to do with money: “That is completely wrong. It is really hard to get money out of China. China has very strict rules around these sorts of things.”

But the documents suggest it was not for want of trying.

In 2012, NICM signed a cooperation agreement on Traditional Chinese medicine with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, China’s top traditional medicine organisation – which is run by the Chinese government.

The following year, Bensoussan found himself at the Great Hall of the People, on the edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, receiving the International Award for Contribution to Chinese Medicine. According to a leaked draft of his speech notes, Bensoussan planned to say Chinese medicine was “exceptional” because of the “conscientious, vigorous support of the Chinese government”. NICM would not confirm if Bensoussan made the speech.

Professor Alan Bensoussan receives the International Award for Contribution to Chinese Medicine at Beijing's Great Hall of the People in 2013, flanked by Chinese Vice-Minister of Health Wang Guoqiang (left).
Professor Alan Bensoussan receives the International Award for Contribution to Chinese Medicine at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People in 2013, flanked by Chinese Vice-Minister of Health Wang Guoqiang (left). CREDIT:UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY NEWS CENTRE

“China remains on a strong trajectory to develop [traditional Chinese medicine] internationally … It is now up to China to help us with this task … We look forward to ongoing collaboration with our Chinese partners [and] the continued support of the Chinese government,” the draft speech continued.

‘Promoting the Communist Party’

Leaked documents reveal that the same year, Western Sydney University was in talks about a major new project with Huang’s Yuhu Group, researching Chinese herbs for cancer medicine. Yuhu indicated it would be willing to invest up to $12 million – a huge sum for an institute that was earning a little over a million dollars in annual revenue. But Yuhu did not have any experience or other interests in medical research – it was a property development company.

Confidential strategy documents show NICM targeted Huang as a potential donor to be “cultivated”. He was later to become leader of the Council for the Peaceful Promotion of the Reunification of China, the peak Chinese Communist Party lobbying and influence organisation in Australia – another organisation identified by NICM to target for influence and funding.

Earlier this year, Huang was banned from Australia over ASIO’s fears he was peddling influence for Beijing – a claim he denies.

A spokeswoman for the university said NICM never received any funding from the Yuhu group. “The draft proposal was never advanced,” she said.

However, that was not the end of the university’s dalliance with Huang. In 2015 he donated $3.5 million to establish a new Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture. At the time, the gift was the single-largest donation ever received by the university. NICM director Bensoussan is listed as one of the Australia-China Institute’s key researchers.

The promotion of traditional Chinese medicine fits with Beijing’s broader use of “soft power” to build its influence in the West, says Alex Joske, a Beijing-watcher based at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. In 2016, Beijing released a white paper saying “the Chinese government is dedicated to promoting the development of traditional medicine throughout the world”.

The country has been rolling back medical safeguards for the herbs; Chinese doctors who question the science face arrest. And new laws in China require hospitals to open TCM departments.

“One of the important things to understand is for Beijing there is no real clear line between politics, culture, education and propaganda,” Joske says. “For Beijing, promoting traditional medicine isn’t just about pushing alternative scientific approaches and medical techniques. It’s also about promoting the Chinese Communist Party.”

Sharing recipes

In 2013 Western Sydney University signed a non-disclosure agreement that mentioned sharing herbal recipes with a man named Yu Long Yu.

The Age and the Herald twice asked NICM if this was the same Chinese medicine practitioner called Yu Long Yu who faced court in 2006 for importing material from endangered species in Australia – including tiger, rhinoceros and musk deer material, and more than 200 kilograms of pangolin (anteater) scales.

The Institute refused to answer the question.

Critics contend poaching of endangered animals is often fuelled by demands for the ingredients for use in certain Chinese medicines. Pangolins, for example, are being pushed into extinction.

A pangolin carries its baby in a Bali zoo. Pangolin scales are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
A pangolin carries its baby in a Bali zoo. Pangolin scales are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine. CREDIT:AP

Bensoussan has long history with Yu. In 2006, when he was director of the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, NICM’s predecessor, Bensoussan appeared at Yu’s trial as a character witness. Bensoussan was described at the time as Yu’s friend and sometime business associate, and described his friend as “absolutely exceptional”, saying “there are very few clinicians of his ilk in Australia”.

The judge disagreed. Yu “was propagating the decimation of protected species”, he said.

It was Bensoussan who would sign NICM’s 2013 agreement with Yu.

Another apparent money-making effort was named Project Rozella. The plan, conceived of around 2014, was for NICM to develop a label – much like the Heart Foundation Tick – that companies could place on herbal medicines that would mean the NICM had endorsed their safety and effectiveness.

“This could be a significant source of revenue for NICM,” internal documents say. “Risks could be minimised by a simple evaluation of the data held, rather than a detailed qualitative assessment of the trial itself.”

A NICM spokeswoman said Project Rozella was a “defunct proposal for a point-of-sale health-labelling system”. She denied any suggestion that it was designed to gloss over the existing lack of proven medical evidence that the NICM was set up to test.

But according to Ken Harvey, president of Friends of Science in Medicine, NICM appeared to be trying to find a way to give a tick of approval to herbs without thoroughly checking the evidence.

“The problem with looking at these trials is they generally don’t stand up. You’re better off bullshitting and hoping that no one is going to pull you up,” he said.

End of article

The below statement is one that I come across quite regularly when people such as Alan Bensoussan tries to vindicate their promotion of TCM. Unfortunately it seems that this statement is quite convincing but in reality it is actually a very irresponsible statement to make.

“The anti-malarial herbal extract artemisinin emerged from a broad survey of traditional Chinese medicine and has saved millions of lives.”

So why is this statement so wrong? There is a number of issues, some of which I will list below:

  1. Artemisinin is not an herb or an herbal extract, it is a compound (a sesquiterpene lactone endoperoxide to be more exact).
  2. Why would the Chinese government embark on a large scale project to find effective antimalarials if they have this wonderful and highly effective TCM? Why bother? Because they know TCM is BS, but they also know that modern science can indeed yield valuable compounds for the treatment of disease.
  3. TCM is however a massive market (people are quite gullible), and hence the Chinese government decided to promote all of TCM internationally – nothing to do with healthcare, everything to do with business. Alan Bensoussan and the NICM are just too happy to be the conduit for the CCP’s plans regarding TCM in Australia.
  4. Chinese scientists isolated artemisinin in the 1960/70’s, derivatised it into artemether and artesunate and it is currently being used as a first-line treatment against malaria in combination with other antimalarial compounds. It is called ‘artemisinin combination therapies’.
  5. It is not TCM that saved millions of lives, modern science did. The Chinese scientists involved in this research was rightfully awarded the Nobel prize for their efforts.
  6. It is very rare to find compounds such as artemisinin – I would say the chances are 1 in a 100 herbs tested, but in reality it is much closer to 1 in a 1000 herbs tested. The Chinese scientists had to test many many hundreds of herbs to find this one compound. (I’ve been trying for 20 years to find compounds such as artemisinin – I haven’t yet found anything remotely as good as artemisinin).
  7. Alan Bensoussan and the like abuse science by making use of A. annua (herb) and artemisinin (compound) as evidence that TCM is effective. He has done so before. The Australian Skeptics published an article in 2017 rebuking Alan Bensoussan’s use of this example to promote TCM.
  8. The WHO explicitly warns against the use of A. annua or artemisinin mainly because resistance against these compounds can and probably will eventually occur. Therefore the irresponsible promotion and use of the herb, A. annua can in effect lead to millions of people dying.  (The WHO advocate the use of combination therapies to slow the development of resistance). Unfortunately there are already signs that resistance has developed against this class of compounds in Asia.
  9. The WHO quite recently again published a position statement and explicitly warned against the use of ‘non-pharmaceutical forms of Artemisia’ (the herb) and yet Alan Bensoussan will dig in his heals and continue to insinuate that TCM is effective using the example of A. annua.
  10. Is A. annua really the only example that they have? Anything else? ‘rhino horn’ maybe?

There is a lot more that can be said but I’ll leave it at that – they will continue to use the A. annua/artemisinin example to mislead the public into thinking that TCM herbs are effective, ignoring the explicit warning of the WHO not to do so. Where is the ethics in that? But now back to the question; is this  article in the SMH the beginning of the end of the NICM? Short answer is, no. The reason for this is that Universities are mainly self regulating, which implies that one person makes the decisions about what science is and what it is not (a decision that seems to be mainly driven by money). In this case it is the vice-chancellor Barney Glover. Now if this man cannot be moved even when members of the public gets hurt (and unfortunately die) because of the promotion of ineffective remedies peddled by the NICM, then this article in the SMH will not really have much of an impact. If anything this is free marketing for the NICM and this is just the sad, unfortunate reality.

For the sake of your health (and of rhinos), please don’t vote for Dr Kerryn Phelps!

You ‘spineless bitch’! No, this is not what I am calling Dr Phelps, this was just one of the reactions from one of her fervent supporters on my article detailing her support of homeopathy. While homeopathy is quite easy to debunk (in short, it contains nothing), traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is somewhat more complicated because of its sheer size, history, the fact that most medications do indeed contain something and its politically loaded nature. However, TCM’s foundation is build on similar thoroughly debunked notions of manipulating a person’s life force with herbs, (endangered) animal material, needles and apparently via ‘treatments’ such as by slapping yourself. So, let us have a look at the role that Dr Phelps is playing in keeping these, and let’s be honest, quite dangerous ideas alive by using the highly effective smokescreen called ‘integrative medicine’.

The company you keep defines you

As a public figure Dr Phelps is obviously very careful about polishing and protecting her squeaky-clean image and is therefore careful with what she says or write. It is thus far better to look at the company she keeps. Dr Phelps is listed as an adjunct at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) hosted at Western Sydney University (WSU). On her campaign website she states that: ‘Dr Phelps is committed to teaching the next generation of doctors as Conjoint Professor at University of New South Wales Faculty of Medicine and in the NICM at WSU.’ She is also a member of the NICMs advisory board which states that “The NICM Board will provide advice to NICM in the advancement of its objectives and priorities….” This is important because their main objective, as advised by Dr Phelps and others, is to integrate ineffective and sometimes dangerous remedies with modern healthcare.

This movement is called ‘integrative medicine’ and Institutes such as the NICM is responsible for expanding this movement (inter)nationally via their catchphrase; “the science of integrative medicine’ (translated; ‘the science of BSing the public’). Dr Phelps also owns her very own ‘integrative medicine’ clinic where she employs a naturopath who also happens to be the vice-president of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society who in turn supports all sorts of quackery (including TCM and homeopathy). Please have a look at their website.

So how do they do it?

The quacks with money

It’s a tightrope act. On the one side you have people such as the esoteric, energy healing, anti-vaccination, homeopathy-loving Judy Jacka. Or people such as the TCM practitioner Dr Ven Tan who the NICM assisted in setting up an integrative medicine clinic (Dr Tan has connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who actively pursues the globalisation of TCM). Another example is the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (BUCM – also connected to the CCP) who is now in the process of starting their very own TCM hospital in Sydney in collaboration with the NICM. When you read about what Judy Jacka, Dr Ven Tan and other like-minded people believe and say about complementary, alternative, traditional and integrative medicine, then it is very clear that they believe all remedies and treatments work, because it is based on the manipulation of life forces and energy fields. They see themselves as visionaries with the ability and power to heal by manipulating these ‘forces’. Here you can read about Judy Jacka’s ideas on ‘medicine’ and her stance on vaccinations (scroll down). And here is list of quackery that she supports – this webpage was quickly taken down after I’ve written a letter (here is a shortened version) to the vice chancellor of WSU, Barney Glover, complaining about excepting funding from people such as Judy Jacka, because people, including children, will and unfortunately did die as a result.

Now the NICM wants money, and this is exactly what they get, with Judy Jacka donating $4 million (WSU made her a honorary fellow, with Dr Phelps listed as a spokesperson regarding this donation), Marcus Blackmore donating $10 million (received an honorary doctorate from WSU) and at a time there was talk of $20-30 million from China in order to start the BUCM’s TCM hospital in Sydney (this is kept under wraps but I have some indirect evidence). Many clinics also donate smaller amounts, which the NICM does not always declare in their ‘scientific publications’ – clear scientific misconduct. Here is one example where they again deleted the web-page containing the information once I published about it, but the WSU management simply squashed the whole matter.

In return, all of these, lets be honest, quacks want credibility for themselves as well as the ‘medicine’ and ‘treatments’ that they happen to sell. The NICM is happy to provide this ‘credibility’ in exchange for money.

Those that threaten their plans (a.k.a. ‘spineless bitches’)

On the other side of this tightrope act you have the public, politicians, regulators and some brave scientists, and of course, science itself. One abused concept that they exploit to try and keep these people happy is ‘safety’. They lobbied regulators/politicians with examples of people who got hurt or died as a direct result of TCM with the explicit recommendation that to ensure public safety, TCM has to be regulated. It worked really well, because back in 2000 Victoria was the first to regulate TCM and in 2012 this has gone national, and suddenly TCM became equivalent with other evidence based modern healthcare professions. Since 2012 everything went into overdrive with TCM being included in the Australia-China free trade agreement. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) now excepts TCM ‘terminology’ (blood is cold, lack of yin/yang etc) as valid indications and even the World Health Organisation (WHO) are planning to include TCM as an evidence-based healthcare system (the NICM has a thick finger in the pie with all of these events – please read here, here and here).

But the fact of the matter is that they do not give a hoot about safety. They simply abused the concept in order to achieve their objectives. There are two important aspects regarding safety. 1. direct safety e.g. a specific herb containing a poisonous substance and 2. indirect safety e.g. lack of efficacy with people getting hurt or die because of neglecting a serious medical condition. A tragic example to illustrate this is the 10 babies that died and 400 that were sickened by a homeopathic remedy that was incorrectly diluted and contained high enough levels of deadly nightshade. This is a direct safety issue. But let’s say that the homeopaths did dilute everything away, like they should have, and these babies were given this remedy containing nothing to treat a serious medical conditions, then they might have died of their medical condition because they received no treatment. This is then an indirect safety issue. The NICM only focus on the former to reach their objectives whilst completely ignoring the latter which is by far the biggest killer of the two.

This is also the reason why they want to ‘integrate’ TCM with conventional medicine, because they know it lacks efficacy and is therefore an indirect safety issue. They know just as well as anybody else that these life forces don’t exist, and hence manipulating it with herbs, needles, whatever, simply cannot and do not work on its own.

However, to create public trust they invented, or at least, they are exploiting the notorious A+B vs B clinical trial design in which they split patients into two groups with both groups receiving a treatment that works, for example IVF (B). Then they add something that they know doesn’t work eg herbs, acupuncture (A) to only one group which then becomes the ‘treatment’ group. In effect, they are cleverly measuring the placebo response, in order to convince the ‘spineless bithces’ that there is indeed efficacy (or a level of indirect safety), all the while knowing that there isn’t. And sometimes they still struggle to even measure a reasonable placebo response – here is one excellent example where the Australian tax payer dished out more than $600 000 to measure the placebo response of acupuncture.

Here is a video (in English and German) of a presentation given in Germany by the Director of the NICM, Alan Bensoussan, explaining how they played this extremely successful tightrope act in Australia.  This methodology will now obviously be used by similar institutes in other Western countries.

The impact on the health of people (and rhinos)  

To keep the money rolling in they do however need to show that they truly believe in the magic of TCM and hence have no problem to promote rhino horn as an effective medicine. On their website they even listed an internet site where you can buy rhino horn – again quickly removed after they were notified about it. In their world, rhino horn is excellent to: “Clear heat, subdue Yang and cool blood, relieves fearfulness, detoxifying.” And can thus be used for: “High fever, sun stroke, trauma, mania, convulsion, sore throat, epilepsy, febrile disease, infectious disease, macula, bad skin conditions, subcutaneous bleeding.” They have no problem with this, but it all depends on who they are talking to, and on what side of this divide those people are. To add insult to injury one of the NICM’s business partners was even caught and jailed for having many kilograms of endangered animal parts, including rhino horn, in his possession. And as far as I can tell, they are still working with this TCM practitioner. Result. Three rhinos a day are blasted to smithereens to supply these quacks with their ‘remedies’.

And then Dr Phelps have the audacity to tweet about her opposition to live animal exports “We must bring this cruel trade to an end.” Yes, sure, but what about the slaughter of endangered animals to feed the insatiable TCM industry and their unquenchable thirst for more money? It’s about votes! “Polling confirms live export is a hot issue for voters in critical #Wentworth by-election”

Some, if not all, TCM practitioners are so delusional that they truly believe that they can manipulate ‘life forces’ and because of this, they obviously do not need modern healthcare. It is two opposing systems and their income obviously depends on the public believing in TCM. It is therefore quite common that a TCM practitioner will ‘rubbish’ modern healthcare and convince patients to forego their modern medication and only use TCM. According to Dr Phelps, she cares about the health of refugee children on Nauru and yet have no problem misleading parents, via her funders, to believe that they can cure their young son’s diabetes type 1 with ‘slapping therapy’, which aims to restore the flow of Chi (life force) through meridians. Unfortunately, this boy died because the practitioner told the parents to stop their effective medication. Here is another recent example – same story.

The big problem with the NICM, advised by Dr Phelps, is how they have colluded with the CCP and how they are facilitating the CCPs plans to globalise all of TCM (you can read about this extensive investigation here, here and here).  This includes how they have lobbied regulators (TGA), the WHO, who both now recommends that TCM, without specifying which ‘medicines’ or ‘treatments’, be integrated with modern healthcare – but what they don’t tell you is that they (via one of the NICMs adjuncts, Michael Smith) was one of the primary drafters of the WHO’s recommendations. So, for the first time in the history of the WHO, they will now endorse TCM!!

It’s about money, and they could not care less about your safety. Here is a couple of recent headlines explaining the situation.

$170b Global Chinese medicine market behind University of Western Sydney deal with Beijing

 WHO endorses traditional Chinese medicine. Expect deaths to rise.

State-sponsored quackery. China is ramping up its promotion of its ancient medical arts. That is dangerous for humans as well as rhinos

Their safety net

Intentionally misleading people, including children, who then get hurt or die can obviously get them into serious trouble. This was illustrated by the extradition of the Slapping Therapist from the UK (where another person died) to Australia. He is now in and out of court and quite recently the clinic providing this ‘treatment’ and its director (Dr Ven Tan) have also been sued.  But unfortunately, the people who are actually responsible for creating and exploiting this growing chaos in healthcare, the NICM and ‘Dr’ Phelps, are still getting away with it. It is because they have a safety net. Calling for the ‘integration’ of only ‘evidence-based’ TCM with modern healthcare is in effect their safety net while performing their tightrope act.

All they need to do is to generalise without naming specific remedies or treatments. Create a bit of public suspicion in modern healthcare, call it ‘western medicine’ and feed of anti-western sentiment, hammer on the popularity of complementary medicines, the public’s’ ‘freedom of choice’, the need to ensure safety, the ‘growing body of evidence’ etc. and they know that the public will fall for it, while they continue to make money from this industry – and they will continue to get away with. Even when they are fully aware that children unnecessarily die because of what they are doing.  If anyone asks them about ‘slapping therapy’ they will very quickly claim that they have never supported this specific treatment. They might even call it cruel and inhumane but they know that they have helped this clinic with ‘integrating’ TCM. They are so clever, but morally and ethically bankrupt.

For them the ‘money is in the magic’, and their challenge is to continue with their tightrope act for as long as possible. Unfortunately, they also have the backing of the Vice Chancellor Barney Glover (who is fully aware of all of this) and even the Chancellor, Peter Shergold – and this makes them almost untouchable.

Conclusions

The total extent of the damage that is being done by ‘Dr’ Phelps is impossible to know, but if she wins this election and has influence on government level then the healthcare system is in for a very tough time. If she can mislead young children about the effectiveness of ancient remedies while she knows that it is ineffective, she’ll be able to mislead just about anyone regarding anything. We all know how politics work. ‘if you support our motion, then we will support yours’ And this will be exploited by the NICM once she sets foot in parliament. I can only hope that the ASIO will have a look at her connections, specifically her CCP connections via the NICM and how they are planning to exploit it. It is a strange world we live in when people such as Dr Phelps (and Prof Bensoussan) who should be behind bars actually have a very good chance of getting into parliament.

If you happen to know anyone in Wentworth please forward this info to them. They, at the very least, need to know who they are voting for.

Vote Dr Kerryn Phelps for ‘Better Health’. No, wait, she supports………Homeopathy?

Better Health! Excellent, let’s vote for Dr Kerryn Phelps. But hold your horses. While most people will think in terms of improved diagnostics and better, safer, less expensive medications and improved accessibility, others such as Dr Phelps have a different agenda. For some people, usually having some financial stake in alternative healthcare, ‘better health’ unfortunately means that they will exploit the current problems/deficiencies in the healthcare system to promote less effective, or even completely ineffective, medications to the general public. One can almost call this their ‘unique selling point’. But when a medication is completely ineffective none of the other issues (diagnostics, cost, safety etc) matters, and yet people such as Dr Phelps continue to promote this. In my humble opinion, a criminal activity, because ineffective treatments cause unnecessary harm and death.

But she is a clever one. As a well-known public figure, she cannot do all of the dirty work herself because she needs to keep her image squeaky clean. So, to get behind the swing of the bat, it is worthwhile to have a look at her collaborators in what I call, an ‘unholy Alliance’, and their dark world of deceit. Dr Phelps is an adjunct at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), headed by Prof Alan Bensoussan. She is also part of the NICMs advisory board and states on her campaign website: “Dr Phelps is committed to teaching the next generation of doctors as Conjoint Professor at University of New South Wales Faculty of Medicine and in the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University.”

It is during these advisory board meetings, held in the herbal-essence filled back rooms at Western Sydney university, where they come up with their sinister plans of how to integrate ineffective treatments into the healthcare system. Let me put in plain language; ‘how to BS the public’. Let me explain at the hand of homeopathy (a next article will deal with vaccinations and traditional Chinese medicine).

Support for Homeopathy

Homeopaths are an interesting, although completely delusional, bunch of people – but they do have a very good sense of humour. They will for example take a substance, any substance (even imaginary ones), go into a state of delirium during a process called ‘proving’, and dilute the substance away – completely away. During this process they note their ‘symptoms/state of delirium/feelings’ which then becomes the indications, and like magic, the vial containing only solvent suddenly becomes a ‘medicine’. To understand their sense of humour, you just need to read about any ‘proving document’. Take for example the homeopathic remedy prepared from a Black hole. They affix a vial of alcohol to the viewing end of a telescope focused on Cygnus X-1’s location within the Cygnus constellation. After collecting the ‘substance’ they dilute it into oblivion with the delirious homeopaths taking this ‘medicine’ stating that it; “ … felt their teeth were “drawing inward.” So it makes perfectly sense that this homeopathic remedy is suitable to be prescribed for……..??

You also get homeopathic remedies prepared from; Excrementum caninum (yes, dog shit), condoms, colours, musical notes, Berlin wall etc. (Here you can find my top ten list of homeopathic remedies for 2017. If you can top any of these remedies, please let me know – I am busy compiling 2018’s list).  One might now argue that all these examples are on the extremities of homeopathy, and yes sure, but it doesn’t really matter. You can also take any well-known medicinal herb, or even a real medicine such as an antibiotic, but as soon as you ‘prepare’ it according to the homeopathic principles, the medicine disappears which will render even the most effective antibiotic useless. The sad reality is that some homeopaths prescribe their remedies for serious conditions such as malaria and cancer which obviously leads to a lot of unnecessary harm and death.

Sure, the biggest risk is indirect, due to neglecting serious medical conditions, but there are also examples when homeopaths go into such as state delirium that they sometimes manage to get their dilutions wrong. For example; many babies died and hundreds were hospitalised in the US after a toxic substance (deadly nightshade) was not correctly diluted. Clearly homeopathy cannot possibly be included within the ‘Better Health” campaign promise?

So how does Dr Phelps support and exploit this? She operates a number of ‘integrative medicine’ clinics where naturopaths, who are known for their love of homeopathy and anti-vaccination tendencies, are employed. A couple of years ago Dr Phelps made the following comments in an article regarding the funding of homeopathy:

Start of excerpt

Unfairly targeted?

But some doctors suggest homeopathy is being unfairly targeted.

“It smacks of a crusade to me,” says Professor Kerryn Phelps, president of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA), which promotes “the integration of safe, evidence-based complementary medicines and therapies with current mainstream medical practice”.

She does not believe homeopathy is having the kind of impact on private health premiums Harvey fears, and says there are “bigger fish to fry” when it comes to fixing the healthcare system.

Phelps says homeopathy can be easily criticised because it has a relatively small evidence base.

But, she suggests orthodox treatments are not subject to the same level of scrutiny.

“The Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year produced a meta-analysis of SSRI anti-depressants in mild to moderate depression and found them no better than placebo,” says Phelps, who is Conjoint Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales and a former president of the Australian Medical Association.

“If you are going to exclude treatments that don’t have an evidence base then we have to start looking at pharmaceuticals that don’t have an evidence base, surgical therapies that don’t have an evidence base.”

Matter of evidence

Dr Vicki Kotsirilos, who originally founded AIMA, says she is sympathetic to Harvey’s concerns but rejects some of his conclusions.

“To say that there is no evidence for homeopathy is actually incorrect and unfortunately a lot of people make those statements,” says the Melbourne-based GP, who points to evidence collected by the British Homeopathic Association.

“There have been systematic reviews that have shown that overall homeopathy is not anymore of benefit to placebo or of marginal benefit. But there have been some Cochrane Collaboration reviews that there is a little bit of research available for some therapies.”

She says some of the major studies quoted don’t properly take into account how homeopathy is used.

“When you prescribe homeopathy, it’s often individualised and you won’t use the same homeopathic remedy for one person with a particular disease to another person with the same disease,” says Kotsirilos.

She says homeopathy, and other complementary therapies, are particularly popular among patients who have suffered side-effects from medication, or where surgery is contraindicated.

“Out of all the complementary medicines it is the least understood, with the least amount of research,” says Kotsirilos, who calls for more funding for research.

“We need more research to be able to identify which patients might benefit from homeopathy and in what conditions, bearing in mind that there are people out there who choose to use this and we have to respect their choices.”

End of excerpt

(Vicki Kosirilos is obviously also part of this ‘alliance’ being a member of the NICM’s ‘Research Committee’). A couple of years ago the NHMRC did a thorough study on homeopathy and found it to be, surprise-surprise, ineffective and recommended that the public should not use homeopathy because they are putting their health at risk. This the Alliance cannot have, because it flies in the face of their plans to integrate ineffective remedies. The director of the NICM, Alan Bensoussan published a press release highlighting the ‘methodological flaws’ and that it doesn’t agree with all international reports on homeopathy etc. But it is during these advisory board meetings where they decide how and who should respond to this unfair ‘attack’ on their sinister plans (here you can read the minutes of one of their meetings). This job usually falls in the lap of Carl Gibson, the CEO of Complementary Medicine Australia – their attack dog.

He promptly published that the NHMRC report is “fatally flawed” and ends his press release with the prophetic words “Homeopathy has been around for hundreds of years, and I am sure will be around a lot longer than some of the critics.” Translated it simply means “We (Dr Phelps, the NICM and their whole alliance) do not accept that a complementary medicine is ineffective, and we will do whatever we can to continue to protect, promote and sell it”. They also lodged a complaint at the Commonwealth Ombudsman, claiming that the NHMRC report “…is inaccurate, highly misleading to the public and unjustly damaging to the credibility of the homeopathy sector. It is therefore essential that all published documents relating to the Homeopathy Review are rescinded in their entirety.” (there is some uncertainty about whether this complaint was actually lodged or not).

All that these people need to do is to plant the seed of doubt in the mind of the public, which is enough to ensure that people will continue to buy these ineffective remedies. Dr Phelps will continue to make real healthcare suspect, claim that her ‘medications’ are all natural, safe and evidence-based and that it will also save you a lot of money. But in reality, she and her Alliance does not give a hoot that people, including young children and babies, die because of what they are promoting – for them it is all about money!! (A good example of the type of people you need in such an Alliance is Prof Gregory Kolt. He was even found guilty of fraud; “As a result, the defendant fraudulently obtained a total of $5,864.15 from the Authority over a period of 14 months. When the matter was investigated, the defendant provided false information and documents.”)

A vote for Dr Phelps is a vote to give this unholy Alliance a foot in the federal door. She will provide easier access and opportunities for this Alliance to lobby government ministers in order to integrate their ineffective remedies with conventional healthcare. This, in my view, will be a travesty for the healthcare system. While homeopathy is one of the easier fake medications to debunk, Dr Phelps’s involvement and impact unfortunately gets a lot murkier. In a next article I will focus on vaccinations and how this alliance has infiltrated the World Health Organisation who now promotes, you guessed it, homeopathy and all sorts of other disproven and unproven traditional medicines.

Sydney medical practice sued over ‘Slapping Therapy’ death of diabetic boy – the first crack in this unholy alliance?

I have some great news, I’m not the guy in the photo! But seriously, who would do stuff like this? About a year ago I’ve written about the tragic death of a young boy at the hands of a ‘slapping therapy’ quack. This particular quack claimed (and still do) that by slapping yourself, or by being slapped by someone else, you will unblock your chi (life force, energy, whatever) that flows through meridians – this is the central tenet of what is collectively known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). So, by slapping yourself you will be cured of whatever medical problem you might have. It is truly bizarre to think that there are actually people that fall for this trickery, and even more bizarre to think that some people are so into it, that they will subject a sick helpless child to this strange form of fatal abuse.

So, the good news is that the slapping therapist, Hongchi Xiao, has been arrested and as far as I can tell, has been in and out of court over the last year or so – I truly hope that he will get a very long jail sentence. Now, something that I’ve been calling for is that the medical practice, which at the time was known as Tasly Healthpac, the university (Western Sydney University) and specifically the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), and to some degree the regulator (Therapeutic Goods Administration) should also be facing court – they are all involved in this, and unfortunately in many other similar practices (and to think that Dr Kerryn Phelps who is currently running as an independent in the all important Wentworth by-election is intricately involved with the NICM and their modus operandi – but more about this in a next article).

So, the even better news is that the parents of the victim have recently sued Tasly Healthpac and its director Dr Ven Tan.  It is not yet excellent news, because the NICM and the regulators are still getting away with it, but hopefully their day in court will come sooner rather than later.

I’ve copied the article published in the Sydney Morning Herald below. It is a very interesting article because is saying quite a lot. Thou should not hate, but oh boy, it is sometimes quite difficult not to develop a heartfelt hatred towards quacks and quackery. I’ll comment on just one aspect below the article.

Start of article

A Sydney couple is suing a medical practice over the death of their six-year-old son, who attended a “self-healing” course in its rooms and later died from insulin deprivation. But the practice claims the couple were already acolytes of the therapy, helped organise the course and were themselves to blame for the boy’s death.

Aidan Fenton, a Year 1 student from Prospect in Sydney’s west, fell unconscious in the Ritz Hotel, Hurstville, about 9pm on a Monday in April 2015 and could not be revived. Over the previous week, Aidan had participated in a treatment called Paidalajin, promoted and overseen by Chinese national Hongchi Xiao. The so-called therapy involves individuals stretching, fasting and slapping their skin to the point of bruising in order to “unblock meridians” in the body.

The five-day workshop was advertised by the Tasly Healthpac medical centre in Hurstville, which collected fees of $1800 from participants and provided Mr Xiao with rooms. Aidan’s father Jeff, mother Lily Pan and grandmother Guo Ying Yin have launched legal action against Mr Xiao, as well as the medical centre and its director, former Australian GP of the Year Chin Ven Tan.

According to a claim filed by the Fenton family to the NSW Supreme Court, Aidan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year before he died. His mother registered him for Mr Xiao’s Paidalajin course, where she was allegedly told to cease his insulin doses as the therapy would cure his diabetes instead. Three days later, Aidan’s father was said to have questioned Mr Xiao and told that a deterioration in his son’s health “was an expected part of the Paidalajin treatment process.”

Aidan’s health deteriorated further. His family claims Mr Xiao said it was not necessary to take him to hospital and instead offered to care for the boy overnight at the Ritz Hotel, near the treatment centre. His grandmother remained with him as his condition worsened and he lost consciousness.

The family say Mr Xiao, the practice and Dr Ven Tan all failed to act in accordance with their duties of care. “The cessation of administration of insulin to Aidan Fenton from 22 April 2015 was a necessary condition of his death,” the legal claim said.

Dr Ven Tan and his medical practice have denied responsibility in their defences, arguing it was the Fenton family who behaved negligently in treating the workshop as medical advice.

They said Mr Fenton and his wife personally delivered four “custom-made Paidalajin stretching benches” to the medical practice in the days before the course, equipment that the couple had purchased from Mr Xiao’s Australian representative. The couple were “co-organisers of the workshop and/or [Mr Xiao’s] own staff, volunteer and/or followers who participated in the organisation of the workshop,” the defences state.

Ms Pan allegedly signed a registration form containing a warning in English and Chinese that people with severe health problems should not participate in the course and that nothing taught in it should be a substitute for medical advice. Mr Xiao has not filed a defence. At a brief hearing on Wednesday, the matter was adjourned to next year.

End of article

I’ve said it many times before, that a quack will almost never criticise a specific complementary medicine, because as soon as they do so, they highlight the fact that the principles upon which their ‘medicine’ or ‘treatment’ are based, is fake. And this is of course a problem, because all of their medicines and treatments, albeit homeopathy, TCM, chiropractic etc, are based on the same (fake) principles. Destroy the foundation of one and the whole house of cards collapse, and this is why they will always remain quiet about it.

Dr Ven Tan, who now luckily has been sued, had a wonderful opportunity to sincerely apologise for hosting this workshop and to warn the public about the dangers of  slapping therapy (and many other quack therapies doing the rounds). And of course, he could’ve explained why this therapy is built on fake principles. Why would he want to do this? Because he cares about your health!! Warn the public then!!! But no, as a true quack not a single word of warning, rather a somewhat brutal attack on the victim’s parents (the parents do indeed also carry part of the blame).  And this is so typical of quacks. Things go wrong, more often than most people would like, and then it is as if they tell the victims that it’s due to their own stupidity that they have fallen for their quackery. You know, please don’t blame the quack.

And that is how it goes in the strange world of quackery. And to think that those guys who are still getting away with it, has in the meantime cooperated with the Chinese Communist party to establish a TCM hospital in Sydney from where they can further internationalise TCM, in all its forms – and all of this just for money (lots of it). You can read about this unfolding tragedy here, here, here and here.

I truly hope that the NICM and the TGA will also one day face court because they are the ones giving credibility to these fake and dangerous healthcare options. But then again, they are so connected that they can squash anything.

‘My story and my vision of China’ – ‘Prof’ Alan Bensoussan, cheerleader of the World Hoaxers Organisation (WHO)

Just thought I’ll share this rather interesting interview with my more scientifically inclined followers. For me the message is rather clear; never make a quack a Prof otherwise healthcare might just suddenly find itself all the way back in the dark ages. Below you can find the unedited interview that appeared in the People’s Daily Online a couple of weeks ago. Because I am so tired of highlighting how people are being BSed by the NICM, regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine (and a lot of other rubbish), I am not even going to comment on the multiple issues (my less scientifically inclined followers should maybe first read these background articles here, here and here)

Start of interview:

“China is the only nation in the world to have systematically and conscientiously protected and invested in its traditional medicine. Professor Alan Bensoussan, who has been researching Chinese medicine for more than 30 years, is the only foreigner in 2013 who had received the prestigious International Award for Contribution to Chinese Medicine.

Professor Bensoussan is the Director of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) at the University of Western Sydney, the largest institute in Australia that does research in traditional Chinese medicine. The institute focuses on four areas; neuro cognitional dementia and mental health in general, cancer, womens’ health and cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

“We have regulated the practice so that practitioners are recognised now so I think China continuing this interaction, engagement with the West, will only lead to greater improvements in the science of Chinese medicine,” Professor Bensoussan said.

Professor Bensoussan emphasised the importance of conducting clinical trials on Western patients in order to find ways to approve traditional medicine in Western countries.

“What we have to do is translate those medicines, develop the science, translate them for the use in the West,” he said.

“So the opportunities, you’ve got a field of medicine that is being used that has been the main form of medicine for all over the world for centuries. There are going to be endless opportunities.”

Professor Bensoussan believes that the advantage of Chinese medicine is that it provides a number of compounds in a mixture and lower dosage levels that will gradually readjust the body’s physiology.

“I think for me personally, the magic doesn’t lie in the purification of the medicine to identify a single compound … but the magic in Chinese medicine for me is actually the interface between foods and purified drugs,” Professor Bensoussan said.

It was learning about the science of acupuncture back in the 70s that triggered his curiosity to delve deeper.

“Chinese medicine offered a different perspective of the patients’ health, a different perspective of their health and illness because the theory is different. It offers different ways of viewing how symptoms and signs are connected and so this was interesting.”

His best experience regarding Chinese medicine was in 1984 and 1985 when he studied at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. Since then, Professor Bensoussan has been back 30 to 40 times for various research collaborations and different study periods.

Professor Bensoussan has high expectations for the future of traditional Chinese medicine such as treating chronic diseases in the West.

“It [Chinese medicine] was the system of healthcare in China for a quarter of the world for centuries so the field is very fertile, very rich with opportunities … We have the infrastructure, we have the resources, we have the enthusiasm, we need the partnerships with China to accelerate this.” Professor Bensoussan is also fundraising for NICM to further support their research.

Professor Bensoussan has been the Chair of the Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration from 2011 to 2014 and has also served frequently as a consultant in traditional medicine to the World Health Organisation.

He has also published over 160 scientific papers and two books, including a review of acupuncture research in 1990 and a government report on the practice of traditional Chinese medicine in Australia in 1996.”

End of interview.

And to think that the World Health Organisation is now planning on endorsing TCM in all its shapes and sizes is just ridiculous and truly a step backwards. I think the title says it all: “WHO endorses traditional Chinese medicine. Expect deaths to rise”. These bastards!! Because it is not only people dying but endangered wildlife and those trying to protect them, against this tsunami of ‘enlightened’ people.

rhino poaching

Acupuncture does not improve IVF success! Surprisingly, it might actually be decreasing it! (just don’t tell anyone)

A negative result! And this coming from acupuncturists – not something that happens very often. And what’s more, it’s published in a very prestigious journal, the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ (JAMA), impact factor = 44. So, all I can say is, wow, did not see this one coming. Because usually they will spin the result into a positive using various techniques and various media platforms, and yet, here we have a very clear negative, even their (social) media platforms proudly proclaims; “Fertility study finds acupuncture ineffective for IVF birth rates”.  Sure, they still tried their best to give it some sort of positive spin by stating:

“We examined the effects of a short course of acupuncture administered during an IVF cycle….. However, in clinical practice, acupuncture may include more sessions prior to an IVF cycle starting.”

“Stress is thought to play a role in infertility…..In our earlier research, acupuncture was shown to reduce the emotional stress and burden experienced by women during IVF treatment.”

Conflicts of interests

Now I have some history with this project. Back in 2012 when the NHMRC announced that they have approved $630 000 dollars for this study, it was promptly called “universities in a wacky waste of cash” in the media. Why? Because even back then acupuncture was known to be ineffective for IVF (and pretty much everything else) so why spend so much money which could have been spent on doing useful research, on something that is known not to work? Well, if you can mislead people into using acupuncture and all sorts of other ineffective remedies, then surely, you’ll be able to fool funding bodies as well. That is after all their job – to fool people, that is what promotional researchers do!

But I did notice a couple of years ago that the ‘academics’ (Prof Caroline Smith and Alan Bensoussan) from the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) almost never declare their conflicts of interests. In other words, they received some sort of financial incentive (cash or in-kind) from acupuncture clinics which went undeclared, in clear violation of research ethics. They also failed to declare their conflicts of interests when they published their original trial design back in 2012 for this current acupuncture IVF study. After highlighting this issue with the journal, Trials, they eventually published a correction (erratum) in 2017 which simply state that the authors did not receive any financial compensation. Sure, she did not get any payments into her personal bank account but the NICM did receive substantial donations (evidence was send to the journal, but yes, what can I say, scientific journals nowadays, pfff). You can read more about it here, here and here.

Moving the goalposts!

But overall, publishing a negative result is so unlike the NICM, the winners of the Bent Spoon award for quackery in 2017.  Or is there more to this than meets the eye? Indeed, there is something fishy and it is strange that the reviewers of such a prestigious journal did not pick up on this. To explain the issue let’s have a look at the abstract (my underlining).

Importance:  Acupuncture is widely used by women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), although the evidence for efficacy is conflicting.

Objective:  To determine the efficacy of acupuncture compared with a sham acupuncture control performed during IVF on live births.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  A single-blind, parallel-group randomized clinical trial including 848 women undergoing a fresh IVF cycle was conducted at 16 IVF centers in Australia and New Zealand between June 29, 2011, and October 23, 2015, with 10 months of pregnancy follow-up until August 2016.

Interventions:  Women received either acupuncture (n = 424) or a sham acupuncture control (n = 424). The first treatment was administered between days 6 to 8 of follicle stimulation, and 2 treatments were administered prior to and following embryo transfer. The sham control used a noninvasive needle placed away from the true acupuncture points.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The primary outcome was live birth, defined as the delivery of 1 or more living infants at greater than 20 weeks’ gestation or birth weight of at least 400 g.

Results:  Among 848 randomized women, 24 withdrew consent, 824 were included in the study (mean [SD] age, 35.4 [4.3] years); 371 [45.0%] had undergone more than 2 previous IVF cycles), 607 proceeded to an embryo transfer, and 809 (98.2%) had data available on live birth outcomes. Live births occurred among 74 of 405 women (18.3%) receiving acupuncture compared with 72 of 404 women (17.8%) receiving sham control (risk difference, 0.5% [95% CI, −4.9% to 5.8%]; relative risk, 1.02 [95% CI, 0.76 to 1.38]).

Conclusions and Relevance:  Among women undergoing IVF, administration of acupuncture vs sham acupuncture at the time of ovarian stimulation and embryo transfer resulted in no significant difference in live birth rates. These findings do not support the use of acupuncture to improve the rate of live births among women undergoing IVF.

So, clearly this study was conducted in order to see if acupuncture is effective and they found it to be ineffective – or at least that is what they want us to think. This negative result was also widely covered in newspapers around the world and yet almost all of them got it wrong. Here are a couple of examples (my underlining):

Having acupuncture to increase IVF chances might be waste of time, study suggests” ABC news (Aus)

Acupuncture no better than placebo for improving IVF success, trial finds” The Independent (UK)

Study finds no evidence acupuncture boosts fertility treatment” Chicago Tribune (US)

So, what did they all get wrong? There are a number of issues with these results, not with the results per se, but with the results that they did not publish. So, I decided to write an email to the authors (and the journal editor) asking them a number of questions (this email was also undersigned by Prof Edzard Ernst). This email should explain the issue at hand. Here it is:

Dear Prof Smith et al.,

Congratulations to you and your team on the publication ‘Effect of acupuncture vs sham acupuncture on live births among women undergoing IVF’ in JAMA recently. 

You are probably aware that the outcome of this project has been widely reported and is currently being discussed on numerous blog sites (here and here are two examples). During these discussions a number of questions were raised and we were hoping that you, or any of your co-authors, can provide answers or some sort of explanation for these questions.

1.Why did it take so long after the completion of this study to publish the results.

2.There is a consensus that a trial of this nature would be far more expensive than the NHMRC’s funding of $630 000 – was there a lot of in-kind support or other sources of funding? 

3.The live birth rate of around 18% reported in this study seems to be low when compared to the overall success rate of IVF. According to IVF Australia women between the age of 30.0-34.9 can expect a success rate of just above 35% while women in the age category 35.0-39.9 have a success rate of just above 25%. (On Repromed’s website, who co-authored this publication, similar success rates are reported).  In your study the median age was 35.4 and 35.5 in the 2 groups, and yet, a success rate of around 18% was reported. If true, does this mean that acupuncture reduce your chances on IVF success?

4.Both the ANZCTR registry and your publication in Trials where the trial design was published, included a study group 3. This group was meant to receive only IVF and it was supposed to serve as a baseline comparison. This is of course a very important aspect and yet the results were not reported nor was it mentioned or discussed – could you clarify what the reason for this omission is?

5.In various newspaper reports it is mentioned that a further two publications will flow from these results. A cost effectiveness study and a paper on the psycho-social benefits of acupuncture. But when something is shown to be ineffective (as in this study) it cannot possibly be cost effective and when no 3rd group, receiving only IVF, was included in this study, how can the psycho-social benefits be determined?   

We would appreciate any answers or comments. Thank you in advance.

Needles to say (pun intended), no response has been received – yet. Now if we carefully look at the design of this study you will notice that the original study had a different title and design. On the trial registry the title is;

“Acupuncture compared to sham acupuncture and standard care to improve live birth rates for women undergoing IVF: a randomised controlled trial”

In the journal Trials the title is;

”Acupuncture to improve live birth rates for women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a protocol for a randomized controlled trial”

So clearly this study had three groups including the important baseline comparison of women receiving only IVF – because this is the only way that you can determine if acupuncture actually improve pregnancy or live birth rates. This is what they wanted to determine, and they were in effect supposed to investigate two questions;

  1. Does acupuncture and/or sham acupuncture have a negative, neutral (no effect), or positive effect on IVF compared to IVF alone? – this is the important efficacy question.
  2. Does acupuncture work better/equivalent/worse than sham acupuncture? – this is a secondary question focusing on the existence of the non-existent chi (energy) that flows through non-existent meridians.

But now they have intentionally dropped the baseline comparison (group 3) and only compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture. Therefore the only conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that there is no difference between acupuncture and sham acupuncture (no big surprise because chi and meridians do not exist). Nothing can be said about the efficacy of acupuncture because they left this important information out and did not report on it, even though they misleadingly claim acupuncture to be ‘neutral’ (no effect).

And the newspapers?

Most journalists get their information from the university’s press release and this is what the NICM published “Fertility study finds acupuncture ineffective for IVF birth rates”. It is completely wrong, it should have been something like; “Chi and Meridians again shown not to exist and acupuncture might even reduce your chances on IVF success” So, the journalists did not get it wrong per se, they just reported what they were told, which is strange, because any good journalist would surely check their facts before publishing. So, the question now is why did they do it? Why did they move the goal posts? Is it possible that this publication is simply a smokescreen to hide the fact that acupuncture might have a negative impact (nocebo effect) on IVF success rates?

They have omitted it intentionally!

This is now where it gets interesting. Back in 2006 a similar study with 228 participants was published by the same lead author from the NICM where a discussion was included about the reasons why acupuncture (28%) and sham acupuncture (18%) resulted in lower pregnancy rates as compared with the clinic’s baseline pregnancy rate of 30% (primary outcome was pregnancy and not live births).  Their current study with 848 participants published in 2018 had even lower pregnancy rates (live birth rates of around 18%) whereas the clinic’s baseline pregnancy rate/live birth rate has in all likelihood improved over the last 12 years (between 25-35%). So, just imagine a newspaper article stating that acupuncture might actually reduce your chances on IVF success. That would be a disaster for these people and the probable reason why they decided to keep quiet about it.

My opinion? The fact that infertility is a highly sensitive issue is simply ignored in order to protect acupuncture, and yes, they will spin this result into some sort of positive sometime in future. They have already started. Now, infertility can lead to broken relations, depression, and in extreme cases even suicide – so it is a very sensitive issue. If there is any suspicion that acupuncture might actually have a negative or even only a neutral influence on IVF then scientists should apply the ‘precautionary principle’  and advise people to stop using it. Promotional scientists on the other hand are well known to throw caution to the wind, and continue to try and convince vulnerable people to use their services or products.  This is completely unethical. These people could not care less about the well-being of the public and hence they just dropped this important information from their publication and did not even bother to discuss it, let alone, warn people about it.

Because of the size of this project they were probably forced to publish something and it took this long because they needed to come up with a way that will cause the least amount of damage to acupuncture. That it was published in JAMA is of concern and one can only question how this got pass the peer review process. Maybe the reviewers were so overwhelmed by the fact that these folks are publishing a negative result that they forgot to review the manuscript. (I will follow up on these issues with the editors)

It would however be interesting to see if the acupuncture clinics who donated money to the NICM, such as “The Acupuncture Pregnancy Clinic” will now put these ‘negative’, albeit misleading, results on their website. But how will they spin it? Acupuncture is their main, if not only, source of income with some of it flowing back to the NICM. (just read their rubbish declaration of interest in the JAMA article to see how they are getting away with it).

Will keep you posted on any further developments, I’m sure there is a lot more to come.